An Uninvited Ghost
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425240588 $7.99 www.penguin.com
Alison Kerby returns in the second in the new series by E.J. Copperman. Alison, a single mother of a precocious ten-year-old daughter, after her divorce from "The Swine" returned to the town where she grew up, Harbor Haven on the Jersey Shore, purchased a house over a century old, and hopes to live out her dream of running a guest house. Those plans changed somewhat after Alison discovered that the previous owner of the house, "Maxie," is still there - sort of. Actually, it's Maxie's ghost who is still there, as well as that of a young detective named Paul, who had been hired shortly before death threats had been carried out against her, with both of them becoming murder victims. Alison, her mother and daughter seem to be the only ones who can see them. But on the positive side, word has gotten around, and the 'haunted guesthouse' is now being booked by a tour agent for senior citizens interested in what is billed as a "unique experience," promising two-a-day appearances by the ghostly inhabitants. Maxie and Paul have no problem with that, especially as they are apparently incapable of leaving the house.
The group of seniors is an interesting one, including as it does a lust-filled couple who hardly ever leave their room, and two gentlemen enamored of young women and cold beer [one of whom has excellent taste in reading material]. Several more characters are added to the mix: The cast and crew of a 'reality' tv show, "Down the Shore," with everything that implies, who take up residence during the filming, and a blind ghost who hires Maxie [with her newly attained private investigator's license] to find out if he unintentionally injured [killed?] an elderly woman in a seaside mansion [also seemingly haunted], as he suspected he had. The woman is found unharmed, but is not so lucky after she bonds with Alison and visits her that night, when she is apparently killed right before the eyes of Alison and nearly the entire roster of guests [human and otherwise], one of whom it would seem must be the murderer.
My delight in meeting Alison et al again completely overcame my normal reluctance to read anything dealing with the paranormal. The novel is funny and charming, with a mystery which has a satisfying resolution, and an engaging protagonist who is not easily daunted. [I overcame the temptation to make a rather obvious pun, also...